Caltrans (California Department of Transportation

CA: Caltrans Announces $225 Million Contract with Siemens for Diesel-Electric Rail Cars

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in partnership with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), on March 18 announced signing a contract with Siemens to manufacture 32 high-performance, diesel-electric locomotives in Sacramento.

The next-generation locomotives will comply with strict federal emissions standards and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent.

“California continues to lead the way in offering robust and sustainable alternative transportation choices, which is especially important given the record-setting ridership that we’ve experienced over the last several years,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “This agreement will help boost our transportation infrastructure, strengthen the local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The joint procurement contract has an estimated value of $225 million, supporting skilled and high-wage jobs in California. The locomotives, known as Chargers, will be built at the Siemens rail manufacturing facility in Sacramento. The plant, which has been in operation for nearly 30 years, currently employs 800 workers and is powered primarily by solar energy. 

"California boasts the nation's largest manufacturing sector which supports over 1.2 million jobs and has enjoyed three straight years of job growth in the state," said California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) Director Kish Rajan. "Siemens is a strong member of the California manufacturing industry and GO-Biz applauds their efforts to build the next generation of energy efficient locomotives in the Sacramento area."

This project will bring new passenger rail equipment to California intercity passenger rail services, which will promote increased ridership, and have environmental benefits by reducing the amount of automobile traffic, automobile miles traveled, and associated emissions.

The next-generation Charger locomotives will be powered by a 4400 horsepower rated diesel-electric engine that complies with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s strict, Tier 4 emissions standards, reducing greenhouse gas emissions approximately 85 percent compared with some existing locomotives. The locomotives will also meet performance requirements for diesel-electric passenger locomotives set by the Next-Generation Equipment Committee, a coalition of government and industry experts promoting safe and efficient passenger rail in the United States. The project includes options for 225 additional locomotives that could be administered through IDOT for other states. 

"As a global leader in rail innovation, we are thrilled to be able to showcase our new passenger rail, diesel-electric locomotive technology in this country," said Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail System in the U.S. "These state-of-the-art, energy efficient locomotives will be built in America using renewable energy and will provide a cleaner, safer and faster means of transportation for rail passengers."

California and Illinois forged today’s multistate procurement using grant funds from the Federal Railroad Administration. Caltrans will purchase six of the locomotives for use on state-supported intercity passenger rail corridors within California. The rest of the locomotives will be purchased by states including Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. Caltrans’ locomotives will cost approximately $45 million, with 80 percent of the funding provided by the federal government and 20 percent coming from Proposition 1B bond funds. 

Through innovation and a focus on efficiency, Caltrans is working to build a more sustainable transportation system in California. Earlier this month, Caltrans released results of the California Household Travel Survey—the largest and most complex review of its kind—which found that the percent of California residents walking, biking or using public transportation has more than doubled since 2000.